Reimer yanked in loss to NHL-best Light­ning

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Sports - By Paul Gereffi

SUN­RISE — Nikita Kucherov got back on the board, and the Tampa Bay Light­ning con­tin­ued their roll to­ward the top seed in the NHL play­offs.

Kucherov had two goals and an as­sist to lift Tampa Bay over the Florida Pan­thers, 5-2, on Sun­day night. Kucherov’s first-pe­riod goal ended an 11-game span with­out a goal. It was his first since Jan. 12 against Buf­falo.

“We knew it was a mat­ter of time, but it was a big one for us,” coach Jon Cooper said.

Bray­den Point, Ryan Cal­la­han and Steven Stamkos also scored for the Light­ning. Louis Domingue made 25 saves, and An­ton Stral­man had two as­sists. Tampa Bay (41-11-4) has 86 points, best in the NHL by a wide mar­gin.

De­nis Mal­gin and Frank Va­trano scored for the Pan­thers. James Reimer al­lowed three goals on 12 shots be­fore be­ing re­placed by Roberto Luongo to start the third pe­riod. Luongo made nine stops.

Point made the score, 4-2, when his shot from the right cir­cle went over Luongo’s shoul­der and into the net at 4:25 of the third for his 32nd goal of the sea­son. Kucherov made the score, 5-2, on a power play with 47.2 sec­onds left. Kucherov is third on the team in scor­ing with 24 goals.

“Kuch is go­ing to be Kuch. He’s go­ing to

find a way,” Stamkos said. “We weren’t too wor­ried. This will re­ally get him go­ing again, I think.”

The Light­ning scored twice on a to­tal of three shots in the sec­ond pe­riod, forc­ing Reimer from the game to start the third.

“We didn’t get the saves we needed in the sec­ond pe­riod,” Pan­thers coach Bob Bough­ner said. “Easy de­ci­sion.”

Stamkos put the Light­ning ahead, 2-0, at 12:08 of the sec­ond. Stral­man passed from the right cir­cle to Stamkos in the slot, and his shot beat Reimer.

Va­trano closed the gap to, 2-1, on his goal about a minute later with a shot from the slot that got past Domingue at 13:11. The goal was Va­trano’s eighth in his past 13 games.

“That’s a team you can’t chase,” Va­trano said. “You’ve got to play with a lead and stay with it. We were just try­ing to chip away at it but at the end of the day it didn’t hap­pen, so we have to re­group and get ready for the next one.”

The Light­ning stretched their lead to, 3-1, on the goal on a break­away by Cal­la­han with 2:09 left in the sec­ond.

The Pan­thers nar­rowed the mar­gin to, 3-2, on Mal­gin’s goal, a wrist shot from the right cir­cle, with 1:10 left in the sec­ond.

Kucherov gave the Light­ning a 1-0 lead when his wrist shot from the left cir­cle went be­tween Reimer’s pads at 4:02 of the first.

Notes: Luongo played in his 1,030th game, sur­pass­ing Pa­trick Roy for sole pos­ses­sion of sec­ond ca­reer among goalies. Domingue is 10-0-0 in his last 10 ap­pear­ances, the long­est win­ning per­sonal win­ning streak ever by a Tampa Bay goalie. John Gra­hame (2005) and An­drei Vasilevskiey (2017) each won nine straight. Pan­thers for­ward Colton Sce­viour is on in­jured re­serve with an up­per­body in­jury. F Jamie McGinn has been re­called from AHL Spring­field. Light­ning for­ward On­drej Palat missed the game with an up­per­body in­jury.

Up next: Pan­thers host the Dal­las Stars on Tues­day.

CHARLES TRAINOR JR./TNS

Florida Pan­thers goalie James Reimer watches as the Tampa Bay Light­ing’s Ryan Cal­la­han (24) scores in the sec­ond pe­riod of Sun­day’s game.

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